In addition to setting interest rates, central banks also communicate with the public about economic conditions and future actions. While it has been established that communication can drive expectations, less is known about how it does so. This column attempts to shed light on this question. Applying novel measures to the content of Federal Reserve statements, it shows that forward guidance is a more important driver of market variables than disclosure of information about economic conditions.
Stephen Hansen, Michael McMahon, 03 February 2016
Carin van der Cruijsen, David-Jan Jansen, Jakob de Haan, 23 August 2015
Central banks have typically targeted their communication at financial markets. Increasingly, however, many have started actively communicating with the general public. Using Dutch survey data, this column finds that the public’s knowledge of monetary policy objectives is far from perfect, and varies widely across respondents. Those with a greater understanding of ECB objectives tend to form more realistic inflation expectations. Central banks seeking to target the general public must take account of discrepancies in households’ knowledge of and interest in monetary policy.
Alberto Cavallo, Guillermo Crucas, Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 10 November 2014
Although central banks have a natural desire to influence household inflation expectations, there is no consensus on how these expectations are formed or the best ways to influence them. This column presents evidence from a series of survey experiments conducted in a low-inflation context (the US) and a high-inflation context (Argentina). The authors find that dispersion in household expectations can be explained by the cost of acquiring and interpreting inflation statistics, and by the use of inaccurate memories about price changes of specific products. They also provide recommendations for central bank communication strategies.
David Miles, 22 October 2014
Many central banks embrace forward guidance by announcing expected interest rate paths. But how likely it is that actual rates will be close to expected ones? This column argues that quantifying such uncertainty poses great difficulties. Precise probability statements in a world of uncertainty (not just risk) can be misleading. It might be better to rely on qualitative guidance such as: “Interest rate rises will probably be gradual and likely to be to a level below the old normal”.
Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 21 October 2011
The August 2011 meeting of the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee produced new language describing the expected path of interest rates over a two-year horizon. That language spurred a variety of interpretations, as some saw it as describing what was already expected and others interpreted it as a significant policy shift. This column examines the expected path of future interest rates and says that the new language was wholly consistent with past Fed practice.
Meredith Beechey, Benjamin Johannsen, Andrew Levin, 24 October 2007
Recent history of long-run inflation expectations suggests reasonably well-anchored expectations in both regions, however no studies to date have compared the recent evolution and dispersion across forecasters' long-horizon projections in the United States to those in the EU. The authors of CEPR DP6536 use daily evidence from financial markets and surveys, which reveal a substantially greater degree of forecaster disagreement about long-run inflation outcomes in the United States than in the euro area.